Click to Subscribe
▶  More from Harm City Author's Notebook
Considering Sprickets
A Surreal Night of Writing

The night before I flew out to Utah, Saturday September 10th into Sunday the 11th, I found myself way behind on my parting composition. I had outlined a dozen articles to email to Lynn so they could go up on the blogspot as I explored Utah backcountry with my guide in the coming weeks.

My powers of staying wake have often come in handy in writing horror, as staying up long enough causes hallucinations. I have found, according to my current schedule, of working one night, then having off another, that drinking alcohol in moderation in that sleepy time in the early evening helps me get by the urge to slumber. If I continue drinking, but not enough to get drunk, I can stay awake past 10, at which point my will gets me by. My plan was to write in this manner until midnight and then write myself sober by 4 a.m. when my son would wake.

I succeeded in the first and failed in the second, still drinking rum and coke—my son has a hell of a top shelf rum collection—still buzzing along and writing when he awoke. Part of the reason was the horrific realization of the true nature of a big-eyed visitant that inhabits northern and eastern Baltimore County, the Spricket, which had a starring role in Planet Buzzkill.

When I grew up in this part of Baltimore County, these creatures did not exist. They invaded sometimes in the 1990s, probably in grocery boxes from China or Thailand.

The spricket has six spider legs, like a daddy long leg spider and a similar oval head, but much larger and fixed with two big eyes. In place of the seventh and eighth legs are two grasshopper legs, which permit this little guy, who could stand on a milk jug cap and barely fit his legs within the rim, to hop straight up.

I encounter sprickets regularly on sidewalks next to woods and brush on the Chesapeake waterfront. In central Baltimore County, down to the border of Baltimore City, these critters typically show up in the basements of row homes. I had killed one at my son’s place and he informed me that they occurred with regularity and he disliked them rearing their ugly heads in his well-appointed and ornately tiled clubbed basement—which simply possesses the nicest shower stall I have encountered...

Five shots of rum and as many articles into my night's work, the aging bladder summoned me below to the well-appointed bathroom, a place where it seems a shame to sully the porcelain…

Entering the bathroom I saw, squatting arrogantly in the middle of the tiled floor, a large spricket, who might not be able to stand on a milk jug cap.

I stepped in and he hopped over into the corner by the toilet paper rack.

I then picked up the value-sized clean-bathroom sanitary wipes and brought it down on his position, taking off two of his legs and breaking one of his jack rabbit appendages. He then tenaciously crawled behind the toilet and fortified himself under the doorframe molding, giving me a clue as to how he and his kind access basements, as he was able to flatten his head out like an octopus, which he much resembled at this moment with his mottled grey skin.

I left him there and went upstairs.

On my way up I spied one of his kind at the base of the stairs, a little smaller than him. I grabbed a roll of paper towels off the gamming table to smash him and seeing this, he back hopped into the corner under the small planter stand.

I decided to whack him on my return and gave him far warning—empathy for insects having emerged as a feature of my drunken consciousness.

Two hours later, a double Mount Gay Rum and water under my belt, I skipped downstairs to use the privy and, to my astonishment, the smaller spricket was standing in the very same arrogant pose as the first, dead center in the middle of the bathroom floor, daring me to trespass. I grabbed the air freshener, doused him as he leapt, knocking him down and then stomped him into goo.

Then, after washing my hands and heel and turning to shut out the light, I saw the first spricket, who had been torn to shreds in his little refuge, disassembled legs stacked neatly to the side, the head gone.

A month later, after flying off and back and resuming my ghetto life in Harm City, I feel an odd kinship with the first spricket, wondering what misfortune beyond my powers to contest will render me a meal for the legion of adolescent hunters who stalk me, hopeful of my demise.

I suppose the spricket is now my totem, hopping out of Harm’s way only to touch down in the same place.

A Hoodrat Halloween: The Legend of Reggiemon Thom

Add Comment